As it appeared in the Daily Nation on April 10th, 2018
As customers, we have thousands of interactions in our lifetime. On a daily basis, we interact with businesses of all kinds. These interactions either relate to our work or are personal. We request proposals, make orders, engage service providers, visit restaurants, go to the supermarket, fuel at a petrol station etc. Some of these interactions are exceptional, however, most are ordinary while others are horrible. We go back to some of these businesses, others remain a once off purchase, we walk away never to return.

On the other hand, as businesses, we provide products and serve our customers on a daily basis. We do so in a marketplace that is becoming very competitive. Next door, a business provides products or services similar to ours. As a result, our customers have a choice; they can come to us or go next door. When the customer chooses to come to us, do we consider it as an opportunity to make them keep coming back? It is unfortunate that most businesses do not realise that their customers have a choice. In addition, many businesses are not intentional about their customers’ interactions and the overall experience. Most customer experiences are random and heavily dependent on the mood of the staff involved. Do such businesses really want customers to come back?

When customers keep coming back, the business is assured of a steady flow of revenues. Furthermore, returning customers save businesses marketing costs required to keep getting new customers to sustain the business. Returning customers are also easier to serve because they are already familiar with the business, its products and services and even its people. Customer make the decision to come back based on how they feel about their overall experience. It does not make sense for a business to target customers only for a single purchase.

Businesses that are keen on having return customers do things differently. They start by having a competent, committed and well equipped team ready and willing to serve customers. These businesses also provide quality products and seamless services that meet the customers’ needs and growing expectations. They make their customers feel important; they listen to them and respect their opinions. They cordially welcome customers to their business, provide them with a unique value and make them feel appreciated. Such business are not worried about the businesses next door because they are intentional about holding on to their customers.

Smart business should aim to keep customers for life and even for the customers’ patronage to pass on from one generation to the next. However, this does not just happen! To make it happen, businesses need to rethink their entire customer experience from end to end. As they do this, they need to have clarity on what the customer expects at every point of interaction and how best to meet and even exceed this expectation. Businesses must prepare well in advance for them to interact smoothly with all customer. This is not a frontline responsibility; the leadership team must show the way and support their team in retaining valuable customers. Be intentional if you want your customers back!

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy